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Love Is the Answer for Denver Rapper Lane-O — and It's "Beautiful"

Love Is the Answer for Denver Rapper Lane-O — and It's "Beautiful"EXPAND
Pablo Irizarry

When Lance Lang, aka Denver rapper Lane-O, was six months old, the car that he and his mother were in was hit by an eighteen-wheeler. They lived.

"I believe we both survived that accident because God had bigger plans for me," Lang explains.

Two years later, his sister died from a brain aneurysm and his parents split up. He was thirteen when his mother remarried and moved from Baton Rouge to Colorado, bringing Lang with her.

"It was a tough transition to leave behind all that I knew and relocate to a foreign place," he recalls.

He had nothing in common with the kids in Colorado. But instead of friends, he had music to comfort him. "I found peace in all the music I had come up listening to," he remembers. "I grew up with tons of exposure to music, from oldies, contemporary, gospel, R&B, blues — but hip-hop was my true love."

He started using hip-hop to express his emotions, and as he got older, he began to view music as more than just a way to vent. He realized he could use it to tell his personal truth, influencing other people and bridging the gaps between them with love.

"I want to make music that inspires people to do more and be more," he explains. "Rapping is my gift from God."

Despite Lang's lofty goals, for the first fifteen years that he was making music, he wasn't driven by professional aspirations; he simply wanted to spread a vision of love. It wasn't until 2019 that he started playing at venues, including the Soiled Dove, Live@Jack's, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom and the Larimer Lounge.

While the COVID-19 shutdowns have put a stop to gigs for now, he'll release his debut album, If It Ain't Love, It Ain't Us, this summer. The first song to drop from the album is "Beautiful," a paean to love. But this isn't your average mushy love song; it's not about romance or crushes or sex. Instead, Lang is going for the deepest love of all: selfless love, love of community, unconditional love. He's reaching for the divine.

When he sings about love, it's not in a vacuum. He puts love in the context of addiction, depression, surviving police violence and domestic violence, unemployment and human imperfection.

His aim is clear: total liberation.

Lang wrote "Beautiful" two years ago, after his son was born and he had time off from his job.

"I vowed that I would use that time to create something musically that had some meaning to it," he explains. "To do so, I had to look beyond the surface level and ask myself what made me feel whole. The answer was, and still is, love. Not just love from others, but love for myself. I feel like we were designed to serve and inspire one another in some form or another. I chose to inspire the masses by writing a song about loving ourselves so that we can love one another. In the song, I talk about imperfections, God, family, community, government and so much more. All to exercise the point that even though none of us are perfect, we all deserve love — no matter how flawed."

And while the song does take an unflinching look at human flaws, its ultimate message is redemption. He sings the hook, "I love you, you beautiful motherfucker," again and again, eventually inspiring others to join him. In the music video, his friends and family, parents, elders and fellow artists all mouth the words along with him.

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Jeremy Pape, who produced the video, uses a retro cinematic style nodding to late-’60s and early-’70s documentary footage of the black liberation movement, rooting Lang's message of empowerment in a long history of social-justice struggles. The song was recorded, mixed and mastered by Bright Future Media, an emerging studio committed to building a positive hip-hop scene in Denver. The video was shot in Golden and downtown Denver, and many of the images are from a private event Lang held at Leon Gallery, where he first played the song for friends and family months ago.

"I've been sitting on this song and the visual for a while now, not knowing when was the right time," he explains. But as COVID-19 ravages the world and people are losing their jobs and shuttering themselves in isolation, he decided the time was right to release "Beautiful."

"I feel like now more than ever, the people need love — and not just love from the outside world, but love from within," he says. "That is the most important step to true liberation."

"Beautiful" is available now on various streaming platforms. 

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